Working while pregnant is much more common than it used to be. Although pregnant women make up a small percentage of the workforce population, according to the United States Department of Labor, women make up nearly 50% of the workforce, and 85% of working women will become mothers during their careers. The United States Census Bureau reports that women work longer while pregnant and return to work sooner than ever before after childbirth.
As a result, it’s likely that you have or will eventually come across a pregnant employee in your workplace. Pregnancy can be difficult and cause a lot of stress—especially at work. Pregnancy has a history of being involved in discrimination in the workplace. But as an employer or fellow employee, there are many things you can do to ensure that the whole office is comfortable and productive.
Pregnant? Know Your Rights
Are you pregnant and planning to continue working? Be sure to know your rights in the workplace.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act
- Provides covered employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.
- The PUMP Act
- Broadens workplace protections for employees to express breast milk at work.
- Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
- Requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”
- The PWFA applies only to accommodations. Existing laws that the EEOC enforces make it illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Ways to Support Pregnant Employees at Work
- Discuss flexible/remote working arrangements.
- If a job requires physically demanding labor, discuss making rearrangements.
- Be mindful of pregnancy discrimination and stay educated on policies.
- Ease the transition out of and back into work during maternity leave.
- Keep employees up to date on their benefits, specifically health related ones.
- Accommodate increased time off due to doctor appointments.
- Many parents or pregnant employees at your office? Start a support group!
- Create an environment of open communication and inclusivity.
- Set up a designated space for nursing and/or pumping.
- Acknowledge that some pregnancies can be traumatic or might trigger a mental health issue such as post-partum depression. Have mental health resources available such as:
- Michigan Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Resources
- Michigan Crisis and Access Line
- The Lifeline and 988 : Lifeline (988lifeline.org)
- MDHHS: Mental Health Resources
- MDHHS: State Operated Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitals
- March of Dimes: Take Care of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
- National Insitute of Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention: Mental Health Conditions
Resources to Share
As an employer, you can help your employees by sharing resources to help ease the stressors of pregnancy. MDHSS has plenty of resources listed below:
- MDHHS: Maternal Infant Health Program
- MDHHS: Doula Registry
- MDHHS: Family Planning
- Mi Bridges
- Michigan Home Visiting
- Michigan 211
- MDHHS: Safe Delivery
- Black Mother’s Breastfeeding Association
- MDHHS: Moms, Babies and Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & Caring for Newborns during COVID-19
- MDHHS: COVID-19 and Pregnancy
Pregnancy is often an exciting time. Make an impact in your workplace by taking these steps to support your employees!